Archives For Evangelism

50 Dollar Party

January 21, 2015 — 1 Comment
This spring we’re giving each of our Community Groups a $50 bill to use to throw a party (an idea we stole from some other Cru movement – can’t remember who!)

 

50s
We encouraged our leaders to take the $50 to their group and allow the group members to help decide how to invest the $50. It’s a fun, tangible expression of “we want our Community Group to be on mission to reach this campus.” The hope is that it will challenge freshmen to step up and take ownership of the party and catch a vision for God using them to reach their dorm. 

 

All we asked is:
  • This is not $50 to throw a party just for your group – it should be held in the dorm that your group is connected with (or with the segment on campus, like a party you are inviting all civil engineers to) and it needs to be outward focused.
  • Take a picture of your outreach party and tag us on Instagram, post on the Facebook leadership page, etc.
What are some creative ways you have resourced students to live on mission?

 

photo courtesy of tenaciousme

The Critical Event

August 20, 2014 — 2 Comments

“The Critical Event” – a trained person taking a non-trained person to share their faith.

For Montana State Cru, The Critical Event is the most important measurement of staff’s success on campus. It’s what they celebrate.

click to read more about their Cru movement. 

Ever since I heard that concept from Montana State, it has shaped much of our philosophy of ministry in regard to evangelism.

The Apostle Paul wrote that the role of a Christian leader is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” – Ephesians 4:12.

On our team we talk about success for our staff is getting as many students as possible onto the playing field. We want to help as many students as possible to experience being used by God to change someone’s life.

79 students who shared the gospel in 2013-14This last year we’ve taken strides to better measure how we’re doing on The Critical Event (because how can you celebrate something you can’t see?).

So last year we kept track of how many students had the opportunity to share the gospel. We saw 31 different students share the gospel in the fall. And a total of 79 over the entire school year. 79 students – many of whom had never shared the gospel before in their lives. Unbelievably encouraging for our staff and student leaders to see that!

Imagine the ripple effect of that…

Now, sharing the gospel one time definitely doesn’t make you an expert. But it gets you on the playing field. And it’s the first step toward building the skill and confidence to be a life-long evangelist.

So that’s the back end of the Critical Event – an untrained person getting taken to share the gospel. This year we are trying to be even more intentional in measuring the front end of The Critical Event. We identified a list of students whom we are calling “Trainers”- students who can confidently share the gospel and can take other students with them.

Day 1 on campus, our first priority for our staff will be to take each of these Trainers out to share the gospel. For our staff to model boldness in sharing the gospel. To get these Trainers back on the playing field, first thing in the fall (to shake off the rust of summer).

On that appointment, after we share with a couple freshmen, we are going to challenge the student Trainer to embrace his/her crucial role in The Critical Event and to live out Ephesians 4:12. The unbelievable opportunity they have to take other students to share the gospel for the first time. To model boldness to their fellow students.

Typically, the first few weeks on campus, our staff are out there following up freshmen like crazy. Alone. This year, our hope is that these student Trainers will mobilize a whole team of students to share the gospel with freshmen.

Our hope is that by the end of the year, our list of Trainers will grow dramatically as more students grow in their confidence and ability to share the gospel.

So that everyone will hear the good news…

What do you think about the Critical Event? Is it a good measurement of ministry success?

 

kgp-blue-grayI would love for you to join the discussion on a post I wrote on CruPressGreen:

KGP: Awkward and Outdated or Invaluable to College Ministry? Discuss

The short of it: in working with college students, is there value in using a gospel tract such as the Knowing God Personally (KGP) or a “canned approach” like The Bridge? Or, are those tools irrelevant/awkward/harmful to a post-modern, secular college student?

Mike Schatzman is on staff with Cru and has served in Eastern and Western Europe (as well as in the U.S.). I thought his comments were worth highlighting.

Great insight:

I would add that the KGP is great for post-modern folks too. I have spent 11 years doing campus ministry in post modern countries with less than 2% Christian populations. These students want to know what a Christian is. The KGP is a simple way to explain what a Christian is in a way that makes sense. I was talking with a student named Gui not too long ago. He has never been to church and never held a Bible before. He asked me how a Christian is different from a muslim, etc. We went through the KGP and opened up the Bible to Eph 2:8-9. It was his first time to read something from the Bible. He understood it. Now I didn’t ask him to pray to receive Christ – he was still an atheist. But he understood the gospel. So much so that 3 weeks later we were walking by a church and he talked about Catholics doing penance to earn forgiveness. Then he said to me, “But you don’t believe that you have to earn forgiveness by doing stuff. You believe God gives it freely through Jesus.” I am not sure that he would have gotten that if we had just done the chit-chat approach to explaining the gospel. The KGP helps people understand the gospel.

 

The last thing I would add is that I have rarely (if ever) seen someone effective in relational evangelism who was not trained, at some point in time, in initiative evangelism using the KGP, Roman Road or some other “canned approach”.

Some great thoughts from Tim Keller on Evangelism in this video.

Some highlights:

  • If you strictly do Evangelism, the outside world sees it as recruitment, increasing your tribe, a power grab
  • You need to combine Word and Deed.
  • The best way to combine Evangelism and Good Deeds is on a personal level (more difficult to do on a organizational level)
    • You’re not going to love a friend without sharing the Gospel with them. And as a friend you will serve them as there is a need
  • Keller’s two steps for setting up Evangelism:
    1. Let the other person know you go to church
    2. Let the other person know that your Christian faith means something to you, even in passing: “my Christian faith has really helped me here…”
      • There are a lot of simple behaviors that you should be doing, that will lead in a very organic way into deeper spiritual discussion
      • You should be doing the simple behaviors first:
        • Loving and caring for people
        • Being a person of integrity
        • Letting people know that your Christian faith
      • And it will just bubble up naturally
      • I think most people think, I have to find out a way to get the whole gospel out in one conversation or get in a debate about Creation and Evolution. That’s not the way to go. Be simple.
  • He goes on to talk about how sharing the gospel in the city is more complex and requires more skill.

HT: @hanskristensen

 

penn state cru

This is part of a series: Learning from Large Cru Movements- a look at 8 of the largest Cru movements in the U.S.  Read the Series intro here.

This post is a summary of two conversations I had with Tim Henderson – in Summer of 2008 and 2011. So some of the content may not 100% reflect the current reality at Penn State Cru. But it’s such good stuff, it is worth sharing all of it.

Overview of the Movement at Penn State

Movement stats as of 2011

  • There are 44,000 students enrolled at Penn State
  • 300-400 students involved in Cru (maybe 5% growth every year)
  • Been pretty slow growth the whole way
  • 8-14 people are coming on every year into Cru internships and staff
  • About 500 students at weekly meeting (ranging from 275-600);
  • 24 small group Bible Studies
  • Staff team ranges from 10-13

 

  • Aside:To my knowledge, Tim Henderson is the most innovative Cru Director in the nation.
    • He has produced phenomenal resources like the Compass and Cru.comm (which, I would guess played a role in eventually forming the phenomenal CruPressGreen).
    • About a decade ago Penn State brought in a graphic designer to come up with a brand for their ministry (and many Cru ministries, especially in the Northeast, have used this branding)
    • They wanted to reach drunks so they came up with the “Beer is Proof” Evangelistic campaign (that many campuses have used)
    • He led the research team that delivered the very insightful Changing Evangelism report (that is well worth reading if you want to understand how to better reach today’s college students)
    • He wrote/gave a brilliant talk to the Penn State Cru movement following the news on Sandusky in Fall 2011.
    • Penn State Cru is always on the cutting edge on evangelism and really college ministry in general.

 

What we do

  • We are not an evangelistic organization
  • We are not a discipleship organization
  • We are a labor producing factory – our clarion call – this would be my message if I had a megaphone
  • I always ask the staff:
  • If we were a factory, what is the widget we would produce?
    • If we were a tree, what would be our fruit?
    • Laborers!
    • We make missionaries
      • Our raw good is lost students
      • Process is centering them on Christ
      • Churn out laborers (missionaries – don’t care who they work for)
    • We win and build so that we can send
    • Why do we share the gospel?
      • B/c out there, among the lost, are people who will be laborers
  • This is what we do

 

What does evangelism look like on your campus?

  • There are 2 types of students:
    • The ready and the unready
  • Doug Pollock in his book God Space says that evangelism is like golfing:
    • You need to be able to drive, putt, chip
    • I think a lot of time Cru treats it like it’s a putting game
    • But most people are not on the green
  • We’re using Community to address Evangelism effectiveness
  • [Here at Arkansas we use Penn State’s Community 2:8 strategy for evangelism. It’s simple and effective.]
  • Evangelism Made Slightly Less Difficult is the best book I’ve read on evangelism recently

 

Ministry Structure

In 2009 we restructured everything that we do here.

We made sweeping changes because:

  1. We need to penetrate far more of the campus with the gospel
  2. We need to dramatically increase our capacity to love and serve students
  3. We need to build better bridges to life and ministry after graduation
    • We have heard from far too many of our grads that the sudden transition from the considerable support structures they experienced in Cru to the independence and relative isolation of the “real world” has been jarring. Indeed, too many of our grads cease influencing others for Christ, and worse still others stop walking with Christ at all.

These two documents describe some of the changes we made– What is Cru, Transition Letter to Students.

Everything we do is designed to move students toward becoming:

“independent, capable, Christ-centered laborers equipped and motivated to continue their own development and influence the world for Christ”

 

We have Four Lanes that students can lead in:

  • Managers(organizationally minded)
    • Managers run the infrastructure of Cru. If you like to set direction, strategize, plan, and execute those plans this lane is for you.
    • Bonus side effect – Penn State does really good job at recruiting to Ops
  • Multipliers– evangelists and discipleship
    • They lead our dozens of small group Bible studies across campus, and meet weekly with students one-on-one to help them walk, communicate, and multiply their faith.
  • Freshmen team
    • The Freshman team exists to reach every freshman at Penn State
    • Always composed of sophomores (6-8 student leaders who oversee the Multipliers who lead freshmen studies)
    • Freshmen bible studies are all led by sophomores
  • Missionaries –if you don’t want to be burdened with a group and want to just go after new areas (you can read more about this lane here) – link to changing evangelism

 

  • In general for leaders: Quality proceeds quantity
  • Our students are particularly sharp leaders

 

Weekly Meeting

  • The entry point to the movement
  • Being in a consistent place with a great location is huge
  • Most people come b/c a friend invited them
    • Community is our primary currency
  • We work really hard to make sure we have a meeting that people want to bring their friends to (feel comfortable with)
  • We are seeker-friendly but with pretty deep talks, pretty serious worship
  • 3 things we focus on:
    • Good Worship
    • Good teaching
    • Fun (not embarrassing)
  • Students speak at Cru 2-3 times a year – big win

 

Bible Studies

  • Freshmen bible studies are led by Sophomores who lead in pairs–
  • Not sure how many are in studies because that’s someone else’s job to know that!
  • Maybe 12 freshmen studies?
  • This year we’re trying to have fewer, bigger studies

 

Discipleship

  • “Discipleship” has at least two senses.
    • The general biblical sense that pertains to all of our life as followers of Christ
    • And the Crusade sense of “discipleship proper” by which we mean a one hour meeting each week in the student union with an older student or staff member.
  • In Crusade we tend to use it almost exclusively in the more limited sense.
  • We hope to recast discipleship in the broader sense, while continuing to value the particular sense known around here as “D Time.”
  • In doing so we hope to help our students learn to see the many, many ways that they can participate in the act of growing as a disciple of Christ, now.
  • Also, we hope the variety will help them be prepared to find the discipleship in its many forms after graduation
  • [You can read more in the two documents linked to above re: the changes they made]

 

What do staff focus on?

  • We get out of the way and let students lead
  • If our students are going to lead, what does that leave us to do?
  • 3 things:
    • Set direction (“this is where we are going”)
    • Resource (skills, tools, money)
    • Develop

We are asking Staff to lead at a much higher level.

  • Our Staff all specialist- they all work exclusively in their lanes and lead it as a Director
  • One person leads each of the Lanes (It’s like having 4 Directors)
  • Everything happens within those lanes
    • They disciple within those lanes
    • Tom leads Multiplier lane
      • He cares and develops everyone in his lane
      • Weekly meeting with everyone
      • Indiv meeting with each student (not every one every week)
      • Not necessarily discipleship (one on one)
        • Where they share their faith and talk about their girlfriend
  • Missionaries
    • Mostly just going and doing Perspectives Cards
    • Every three weeks rotate thru guys (taking them out)
  • Managers – take them sharing twice a semester
    • We coach the student team leaders
      • How did the weekly meeting go?
      • What is going on in your life?
    • Students lead their own team – staff don’t go to the team meetings
    • It’s the staff’s job to lead the student leaders; the student leaders’ job is to lead their team (CRU, prayer, etc.)
  • Our Staff has invested really heavily in doing the 5 follow ups
    • We call it “Cru core values” and we heavily promote it:
      • “If you’re a freshman and you’re new, we’d love to go through this one on one with you”
      • Have them sign up to meet and talk about our Cru core values
    • It’s the best thing we do for evangelism

 

What do you (the Director) focus on?

  • My job is to keep my staff happy so they’ll stick around and grow up to be Directors
  • I speak every other week at our weekly meeting
  • Lead missionary lane
    • Meet every week with them (45 students)
  • Develop the team
    • Meet one-on-one with staff
  • I never go on campus alone
    • Always with staff or student
  • Weekly schedule
    • In the office all day Monday
    • Wed. AM prep morning
    • Thursday afternoon prepping for Talks
    • Other mornings, doing staff meeting or training

Making Staff Happy

  • We go out early to Ray’s Town (where we have our leadership retreat)
  • We get a houseboat for our staff
  • We invest very heavily in making our staff really happy
  • Play a ton together
    • We do a lot of staff retreats
    • Strong sense of camaraderie
  • One year we took off the week after Fall Retreat
    • Monday and Tuesday off
    • Wednesday – day of prayer
    • Thursday night – cheese and chocolate fondue for the students (at a mansion house they rented for dirt cheap)
    • Took the staff team to Philadelphia on Friday
    • Net effect= staff are feeling: “I went a whole week, I celebrated, we played, I left town, and now I’m ready to go hard for the rest of the semester”

 

Miscellaneous

Question – You’ve referred to community a lot; how that is your primary currency, the main thing you do.

How do you produce good, life-changing community?

  • We talk about it incessantly
  • Applaud it when it happens
  • Spend money on it
  • Make things as fun and social as we can
    • Staff team loves each other – we play a lot
    • A sense of playfulness that permeates our movement
  • Dances and socials
  • Houses where students throw parties
    • Videos during Cru to promote their parties
    • Lodgefest – bunch of guys lived at a place called the Lodge
  • At beginning of the year, take all the leaders down to a lake
    • For 3 days
    • Water ski, jump off cliffs
    • Camp fires
    • Live in tents
    • Evangelism training
    • Drenched in community and play
  • Turn everything into a C2:8 event
  • Cru Meetings aren’t too formal
  • We’re here to have a good time and verbalize that
  • Champion inclusivity and warmth

 

Recruiting

We’re trying to get as many kids to join our staff as we can

  • We need more laborers and are current system won’t give us any more (if we wait for staff)
  • We tell students:
    • “There is no one better than a Penn State Cru senior to go reach other Penn State students.”
  • There’s a ton of people in our movement who won’t go on to do full time ministry but might invest a year with us
  • We’re going to run a campaign called, “One year and then career”
  • Result would be another 5-10 laborers per year who will in turn give us more potential to do more

 

Strategic Planning

We use a framework called Clouds and Puzzles Pieces (click to see the pdf of the framework)

4 questions

1) What are we trying to build here this year?

  • What are we trying to get done/accomplished? Mission/Vision

2) What are the problems holding us back?

3) What do we currently have that can help us?

  • Critical mass
    • Your weekly meeting is not a problem to be solved
    • It’s a bucket of cash
    • We use our weekly meeting to help our morale problem
    • We use our weekly meeting to fix community
    • We have 400 people that are a resource

4) How do we spend what we have to solve our problems, meet our goals, and increase what we have for next year and its problems?

Example:

  • Couldn’t get kids to come to a ministry training time
    • Don’t want to come because it’s boring, time constraints
    • There is no time where we can do training time during the year
    • We bought a bunch of tents and booked a couple nights at Ray’s Town camp
    • Did it before the school year
    • Charged $30
    • Train them up and have a blast
    • Ray’s Town (training we do before the year) is no longer a problem, it’s a resource, it’s critical mass we can use for our purposes
    • Students are trained, have fun, connect with each other

Those 4 questions are  the framework that we work through

[Here at Arkansas we’ve adapted this approach and use it for all of our planning – I wrote more in depth about it here]

 

On Sharing Resources

  • We never make things intending to use it nationally
  • All we do is make things we need
  • We needed something for discipleship, so we came up with the Compass
  • We needed something to use for drunks so we made Beer is Proof
  • It only took 5% more effort to share the wealth
  • We made Cru.comm (Bible study material) because we lacked control over small group material and that was hurting our sending
    • We would ask students to join them on staff and they would be like, “why?” – they had no idea what we were about, our distinctives
    • We wanted material where we knew our students would be getting our distinctives over 2-3 years in Cru
    • 80% of our small groups use Cru.comm

 

 

What are your biggest takeaways from learning about the Cru ministry at Penn State?

Listened to a Matt Chandler sermon a few weeks ago where he gives a phenomenal gospel message to Bible Belt Christians:

For most of us, the former life that we need to proclaim is that we were busy with a thousand religious activities, but we didn’t know the gospel until Jesus saved us. “My former life” is that you were a deacon and Sunday school teacher, but you didn’t know Him. Or our former life needs to be, “I went to church four or five times a year. I went to church Christmas and Easter. I had Christian in my title of who I was, but in reality I had no idea who Jesus was. My life didn’t match up with the gospel calling on my life. I just didn’t know. So in my former life, this is what I treasured and this is what I pursued. And Jesus saved me.”

I think the most difficult group is going to be the group that has been in church a long, long time.

I’m saying that the offer stands, especially for you. For me, is it miraculous when someone in witchcraft comes to know the Lord? – Yes. But it’s just as miraculous, if not maybe more miraculous, when God saves among church folk. Some of them have been inoculated to Jesus: just enough to not need Him. They can talk the language just enough to not understand that they’re way outside of the Kingdom and under a false gospel. Oh, that He might move well in your hearts today.

 

This is the 2nd post in the series “Marketing Jesus on the Quad”. Click to read the 1st post.

I know. I don’t like the thought of “marketing Jesus” either.

But in this age, “all communication will be perceived as marketing. All self-presentation, even church advertising, will be perceived as branding. And all outreach will be viewed as sales. There is nothing we can do to change this context.” –  Tyler Wigg-Stevenson

So for simplicity, I’ll use the term “marketing” (my goal is not to split hairs over semantics but to think through how we can better communicate the good news to this generation of college students).

As I’ve chewed on the implications of horizontal marketing for college ministry (see my initial post for an intro), I keep coming back to: we’ve got to figure out what we’re “selling”.

What ideas are we hoping students will spread?

What exactly do we want students to talk about?

We want students to talk about Jesus.

But, there’s really TWO things we want students to talk about:

  • Jesus AND Cru (for the sake of brevity I will use “Cru” throughout, but I really mean “Cru or whatever org/church/ministry you’re a part of”)

Think about it: why don’t we just put up posters on campus that say “Come become a follower of Jesus – 8:30 – Tuesday nights”?

Why is our lead foot often to “sell” Cru? And is that wrong?

 

We are unapologetic in wanting to students to passionately promote Cru.

Because we know that through getting involved in a movement like Cru, students will encounter Christ and join His mission to seek and save the lost.

 

Seth Godin captures this thinking well in his book Tribes. It’s essentially a how-to book on how to create a movement that will change the world. And what is the main ingredient? “Humans need to belong . . . and connect around an idea”.

David Mays has a thorough summary/key quotes from Tribes here

 

A movement like Cru provides the key ingredient that will get over student’s indifference and/or antagonism toward God: belonging.

Getting swept up in a movement of peers who love and wholeheartedly serve Jesus.

Many students need to belong before they believe.

Dallas Willard echoes this in his thoughts on evangelism: “Many people will be drawn in without any special strategy but simply by the health of the people.”

 

Seth Godin poses what I think is THE question for horizontal marketing:

“How can we make it easier for people to talk about what they’re up to and what they care about?”

 

The solutions we’re looking for seem to break down into two categories:

  1. How do we make it easier for them to talk about Jesus?
  2. How do we make it easier for them to talk about Cru?

 

And I think both are legitimate (and two pretty different) things:

  1. We want to help our students learn, especially in a new world of social media, how to easily share with their friends what is most important to them (Jesus).
  2. But we also want to make it easy for students to passionately persuade their lost friends to join a movement of believers (Cru) where they will encounter Jesus.

 

So I would love to take on each of these in separate posts in the next few days in hopes that, together, we can figure out how to better accomplish each.

What are you thoughts? What are we marketing- Jesus or Cru? Is there room for both?

 

Marketing Jesus on the Quad

February 22, 2012 — 5 Comments

“P&G To Lay Off 1,600 After Discovering It’s Free To Advertise On Facebook”headline last week

The new age of marketing is great news for college ministry.

Two reasons:

  • Advertising is almost completely free
  • It’s highly dependent on peer relationships

Every year we spend less and less on traditional advertising.

When I first came on staff with Cru we would spend hundreds of dollars on a single ad in the School Newspaper. Even as recently as 3 years ago we invested thousands on yard signs, facebook ads, and posters around campus.

Now we almost exclusively do free “advertising” on Facebook and peer-to-peer word of mouth.

This graphic does a great job summarizing this new era of Horizontal Marketing. It’s well worth clicking to read the full infographic (graphic via @mcryanmac who tweeted “This has very interesting implications for how evangelism on campus moves forward”).

“Horizonal marketing means creating a remarkable product and story and setting it up to spread from person to person.” – Seth Godin

 

I want to take a few posts and figure out together what this new era of marketing looks like in College Ministry.

 

Here’s where we’re headed in the next few posts:

1) What are we marketing?

  • Cru (or church or whatever Christian group)
  • or Jesus

2) Applying Horizontal Marketing to College Ministry

  • Using social media for marketing
  • Peer to peer marketing
    • How can we make it easier for students to talk about what they’re up to and what they care about?

 

Let’s get the ball rolling:

What are some implications you see of how we apply Horizontal Marketing in college ministry?

Two GREAT posts I’ve come across on the Motive and Method for Evangelism:

 

The Motive for Evangelism

The first step toward leading people to become evangelists is to lead them to the waters of the Gospel.

If Jesus isn’t good news to us then we’ll never think He’s good news for others

A willingness to speak comes from a heart that is smitten by the only person in the universe worth talking about, and possibly looking foolish for.

When someone becomes a Christian, we make a big deal about it. We announce it on Sundays. . .we announce it on the web . . . we talk about it constantly. Many Christians report never having seen someone become a Christian before coming to our church. It is extremely encouraging for them to see something supernatural like someone “gittin saved.”

In celebrating someone’s conversion, we are celebrating evangelism. People need to know, especially in the Bible Belt, where Christianity is a cultural relic, that the Holy Spirit is alive and well, making disciples and building God’s Kingdom, and that they themselves can be a part of it. This celebration has awakened many to tell others about Jesus for the first time in their lives. Literally, evangelism begets evangelists.

Click to read the entire article.

Application for us (on this last part): at our weekly meeting we’ve started showing weekly videos of students experiencing life change).

 

The Method of Evangelism

Why you need to learn and memorize a clear way of explaining the gospel. A good apologetic on why you should learn a gospel tract (among other things).

A friend suddenly says to you, “Okay, tell me what this Christianity stuff is all about.” What would you say? Could you explain the gospel clearly in that moment?

Here’s the deal: if you think when the moment finally comes and your friend is ready to listen, that the gospel will flow “instinctively” and smoothly off your lips because, after all, you’ve been a Christian for years, you are wrong! It will come out of your mouth and fall on the floor in a muddled mess.

To be effective witnesses we must work at being able to take what we know in our heads and hearts and clearly express it out of our mouths.

Similar thinking (that’s verbalized in this article) has led me in recent years to a newfound love for the Knowing God Personally tract.

Strongly encourage you to read the entire article.

HT to @pablonunez for tweeting about this article – hooray for Twitter!

 

What are your takeaways from these two articles?

 

photo courtesy of . SantiMB .

“Every culture hostile to Christianity holds to a set of ‘common-sense’ consensus beliefs that automatically make Christianity seem implausible to people.” – Tim Keller

I’ve been working on new material for an Apologetics training class I’m teaching and came across this great article from Tim Keller that deals with Defeater Beliefs (that his book Reason for God deals extensively with).  Defeater Beliefs are commonly held ideas that make it impossible for someone to believe.

According to Keller, since most people hold to these Defeater Beliefs, there must be 2 parts to evangelism

  1. “The more negative aspect has to do with ‘apologetics’ – it consists in deconstructing the culture’s implausibility structure.
  2. The more positive aspect of sharing the gospel is to connect the story of Jesus to the base-line cultural narratives.”

But here’s what I thought was particularly helpful:

You can’t just immediately 1) Do apologetics or 2) Present the gospel

  • “If you try to do apologetics before you pull off a quick, attractive presentation of Christ, people’s eyes will glaze over and they will become bored.
  • But if you try to do a very lengthy explanation of the meaning of Christ’s cross and resurrection before you convincingly deal with the defeaters, they won’t listen to you either”

Keller explains there has to be a relationship where you have a Sandwich of 3 Layers:

  1. “Brief gospel summary. First, the gospel must be presented briefly but so vividly and attractively (and so hooked into the culture’s base-line cultural narratives) that the listener is virtually compelled to say “It would be wonderful if that were true, but it can’t be!” Until he or she comes to that position, you can’t work on the implausibility structure! The listener must have motivation to hear you out. That is what defeaters do – they make people super-impatient with any case for Christianity. Unless they find a presentation of Christ surprisingly attractive and compelling (and stereo-type breaking) their eyes will simply glaze over when you try to talk to them.
  2. Dismantle plausibility structure. Alvin Plantinga wisely asserts that people avoid Christianity not because they have really examined its teachings and found them wanting, but because their culture gives huge plausibility (by the media, through art, through the expertise and impressive credentials of its spokespersons) to believe a series of defeater beliefs that they know are true, and since they are true, Christianity can’t be.
  3. Longer explanation of the person and work of Christ. Now, if people find you have at least undermined the defeaters in a listener’s mind, you can now return to talking at greater length about creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.”

I highly encourage reading the full article.